Tribute to Zaharibu

by Thomas L. Craig

Editor’s note: This letter from a friend of Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, a frequent contributor to the Bay View who is housed in the infamous Corcoran SHU, shows the positive influence he has had on the friend, who is now trying to visit him. Zaharibu has been in solitary confinement for more than 24 years.

Another friend of Zaharibu wrote: “We believe it is things of this nature which further prove the positive impact on people’s lives that NCTT (NARN Collective Think Tank) activists continue to have while simultaneously debunking the lie that Zaharibu and his NCTT comrades inside are ‘gang members’ or anything other than the progressive political activists which they are.”

Open letter to Corcoran State Prison Warden Connie Gipson from former prisoner Thomas Craig seeking approval to visit Michael Dorrough

I recently submitted a request to visit with an inmate under your jurisdiction and was denied for failing to obtain Warden’s approval as I was formerly incarcerated. I assure you that this oversight was not intentional in that it has been many years since my incarceration and I write now seeking approval to visit.

Michael-Zaharibu-Dorrough-2012-web, Tribute to Zaharibu, Abolition Now! I first met Mr. Dorrough in 1993 while housed at Pelican Bay State Prison at the age of 27. We were cellmates from approximately 1994-1996 where he had a most profound impact upon my life that has followed me all these years later.

Following the death of my mother in 1978, I spent most of my youth incarcerated and grew to develop a defiant attitude towards the world. It was easy for me to get caught up in the things I did because I didn’t care about anything but my sister and even that was not enough to quell my anger towards the world.

I tried to make it here and there but nothing really ever meant enough to give the outside world meaning. When I met Mr. Dorrough, I had no idea that life as I knew it was about to change forever. He taught me a lot of things about life, myself and my responsibility to my family and community.

It was through Mr. Dorrough and others like him that I learned the importance of study, its application in my life and how the pursuit of knowledge could change my life and the lives of those around me. I learned about self-respect, responsibility and accountability for my actions. It is because of Mr. Dorrough and men like him whose influence in my life has enabled me to be a good father to my children as well as a good husband and productive and contributing member of my community.

We have remained in contact over the years and he has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement through correspondence for the past 20 years now. Mr. Dorrough is largely responsible for the transformation that I have and continue to make in my life.

My family, Rajenna, Shontia and Jahlil, have gotten to know Mr. Dorrough through our exchange of correspondence and my recounting of our friendship. He has become just as much a part of our lives as we hope we have become of his over the years; in fact, I know we have. We have put off trying to visit him for far too long as we have striven to get our lives and family situated and we have finally reached the stage where we have the ability to make this happen.

Your approval is respectfully requested.

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